Saturday, May 26, 2012

W is for Whales and Wasakaka

In my A-Z of the Dominican Republic we are nearly at the end. This post is on W and W is for Whales and Wasakaka. Looking at whales first.

Each year, between January and March, between 3,000 and 5,000 humpback whales make the long and slow journey from the polar regions of the North Atlantic to the warm clear waters of the the Bay of Samana in the north east of the Dominican Republic, to give birth and mate for the following year.

In the above map, the area marked in dark blue shows the territorial waters of the Dominican Republic; the green shows the waters of the Sanctuary for the Marine Mammals.

The Dominican Republic is fortunate to have one of the largest and best humpback breeding sanctuaries in the world and the Dominican government enforces strict whale protection laws and guidelines to ensure the safety and conservation of these amazing animals. There are strict guidelines if you want to go and watch them, and boats have to keep a respectful distance so as not to disturb them too much.

The female typically breeds every two or three years with a  gestation period of eleven months. When born, the calves are about 4 metres long and weigh around 700 kg. They are nursed by their mothers for around six months and leave their mothers when they are just over one year old and around 9 metres long. Both males and females reach maturity at around 15 years old when they are around 16 metres long and weigh 40,000 kg. They live for 45-50 years.

They eat around 5000 lbs of tiny shrimp and plankton and small fish a day, twice a day, but only in the feeding season which lasts 120 days in the cold waters. A group of whales will swim rapidly in wide cicles under a school of fish and then blow air through their blowholes. The bubbles then net the fish and each whale will take his or her turn swimming into the shoal, mouth open, swallowing thousands of fish in one gulp.

They are incredible animals and the Dominican Republic has hundreds of tourists each year, just to have the chance of watching them.

My other W is for Wasakaka. This is a sauce, which is served with chicken at one of the Dominican Republic’s fast food restaurants known as El Provocon.

The chicken is cooked over carbon and served with this fabulous sauce and usually accompanied by yucca and lightly fried or boiled onions.

Whilst the recipe for Wasakaka is a secret, luckily Aunt Clara, author of the famous Dominican Cooking recipe book, has her version of it which is scrumptious, and it is here.

I would love to serve it with yucca too but for some reason I am totally incompetent when it comes to cooking it, it is always stringy and hard, so I eat my Wasakaka chicken with mashed potatoes!


  1. It must be awesome to watch the whales, I would love to! I only know Yukka as a plant (similiar to palms)is that what is eaten with the chicken?

  2. I'd love to see the whales too.
    And I never knew you could eat yucca. I love yuccas, I think they're such interesting looking plants.

    1. Hi Steph and Sami. I think I spelled it wrong! I meant yuca! Yuca is what we eat, apparently it was a staple food for the Taino indians. It is sort of a carrot shape but longer and you peel it like a potato and boil it. It is pale yellow and has stringy bits! It is also called cassava. I had no idea there were different spellings!

  3. Hi,

    For cooking the yucca; you have to boil it without salt and add the salt almost when you are going to turn off the stove. After that, you have to take out of the water.


  4. Yuca takes about 9 months in the ground to be ready. If you leave it too long it is stringy inside right in the middle. Good way to cook it is in a pressure cooker.

    1. I need to work out how to tell good yuca from bad when I buy it!